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Author Topic: French Napoleonic Prisoner of War Guillotine  (Read 3173 times)

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Offline Asid

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French Napoleonic Prisoner of War Guillotine
« on: January 20, 2017, 05:54:16 PM »
French Napoleonic Prisoner of War Guillotine from M.S. Rau Antiques

Published on 21 Jun 2016

An incredible and extremely rare artifact of world history, this monumental model of a double guillotine was created during the Napoleonic wars by a French prisoner of war. A hand-written letter of ownership, dated 1900, accounts how this model was created by a prisoner from scraps of beef and mutton (sheep) bone and was purchased from the prisoner sometime in 1812 in Bristol, England. Many of the inmates at the prisoner of war camps were skilled artisans long before they were soldiers, and because of the long duration of the conflict and cost of care, their captors encouraged detainees to use their skills to create objects to be sold at civilian open markets. Because of the intricacy of these fascinating objets d'art, very few of these models have survived the test of time. This particular model remained in the same family to which it was originally sold until recently, and it is by far the largest and most detailed compared to the handful of specimens found in museums or at auction. Adding to the rarity of this piece is that it has moving parts, as only a scant few model carvings were ever created with such mechanical accuracy.

Standing at over two-feet, this four-tiered masterpiece is impeccably detailed. Forty-one scrimshawed men and 36 cannons line the platforms. The soldiers have movable arms, and diminutive stairs lead to the guillotines that feature movable "blades." The catch buckets below the mechanism even include tiny removable heads. By many accounts, Napoleonic prisoners of war were confined to mostly makeshift prisons in old castles, naval dockyards and purpose built camps. Though treated fairly well, prisoners were typically kept in rather dark conditions and were not allowed to have objects that could be used as weapons, including tools. That means inmates would have had to create these amazing models using handmade tools using scraps of whatever was available, including shards of glass for carving; an activity that was most likely done by candlelight. With this perspective, the precision and intricacy of this model becomes even more awe-inspiring.

This exceptional prisoner of war model comes with its original, custom-crafted, period protective case featuring original hardware.

Accompanied by an original, hand-written letter of ownership signed "Sutton Sept. 1900"

Circa 1803

8 3/4" wide x 20 1/2" deep x 26 5/8" wide

Auction site: HERE
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